March 8, 2008
For many, "conservatism" is a dirty word. It brings to mind an
image of a stubborn, rich, greedy businessman trying to exploit
others. At least, that's the image the Left has managed to craft in
But the reality is much different. The conservative movement recently celebrated The Heritage Foundation's 35th anniversary as the premier conservative think tank in the world. We pride ourselves on championing increased freedom, liberty, and prosperity, three conservative ideas that help everyone, everywhere.
So there's no reason that Hispanics shouldn't give this movement a closer look.
For starters, conservatism is consistent with many of the values of the Hispanic American community. Specifically, conservatism emphasizes the concepts of hard work, entrepreneurship and prosperity. Conservatives recognize the institution of marriage as the backbone of a strong civil society.
In more practical terms, conservatives have been leading the fight against higher taxes and a more intrusive government. As conservatives, we place greater trust in the individual, rather than in the government. In fact, this approach has been our guiding force in resisting nationalized healthcare and fighting to eliminate the welfare state.
For instance, despite much resistance from the Left, back in 1996 conservatives successfully led the move to overhaul a welfare state rooted in government dependency. Instead of rewarding hard work, the welfare state had become an anchor for far too many people. Welfare enrolment fell dramatically, particularly in cities like New York, with a high concentration of Hispanics.
In fact, with increased spending power Hispanics are doing more than just working -- they are opening up businesses all across our country. Because we believe we ought to be able to keep more of our hard-earned money (rather than giving it to the government), conservatives have always fought to keep taxes low.
Turning to education, with school vouchers, conservatives have been pushing to give increasing parents the ability to choose for themselves what school their children should attend. Conservatives believe that every American, regardless of class or race, should be afforded the opportunity to demand that our children receive the very best education.
Because of the disproportionate number of Hispanics enrolled in our public schools, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 1 out of every 3 High School drop-out is Hispanic. School vouchers have been particularly effective in places like Florida and Arizona (with sizable Hispanic populations) in increasing accountability in our education system.
Only time will tell if more and more Hispanics will consider an alternative to the liberal orthodoxy of a nanny state and the failed policies that have done little to empower Hispanic families and remove us from government dependency.
What's certain is that the Heritage Foundation will celebrate its 70th anniversary 35 years from now continuing to underscore the ideas of a limited government that protects individual freedoms and liberties.
Israel Ortega is a Senior Media Services Associate at the Heritage Foundation and has more than half a decade working in Congress and Washington, D.C.
First appeared in San Diego's La Prensa